Turns out that the alleged anthrax killer had a substance abuse counselor. (Though she wasn't exactly a poster child for the profession--she had a 2007 OUIL.)
This story raises a very interesting point. If my understanding of 42 CFR Part 2 is correct, there is no " duty to warn" provision in the law. This being the case, the recommended practice is to make a non-disclosing report--an anonymous report that does not explicitly or implicitly identify the client as a recipient of addiction treatment services. (More info here.)
Clearly, this is a case where a worker (or agency) has to imagine his or herself on the witness stand defending a decision to disclose (or not to disclose). If you believe that a guy is going to kill his co-workers you want to report it in a way that assures the police will intervene and take it seriously.
The story, as told in the Washington Post, which may, or may not, be 100% accurate, raises a few questions about whether the situation could have been handled better:
She waited overnight. Should she have made the report sooner?
Was a supervisor or the agency director involved?
Did she identify herself as an addiction counselor or calling from an agency that provides addiction treatment services?
Should she have made the call from a non-agency phone? Does making the call from an agency phone turn, an otherwise non-disclosing report, into a disclosing report?
Just to be clear, I'm not criticizing her. It's just a good opportunity to brush up on the law and learn from an actual case.